UPDATE 9:05 p.m. EDT - More than 20,000 people packed into a Dallas sports arena for a glimpse of Donald Trump on Monday night, just two days before the Republican Party front-runner was scheduled to take the stage for a presidential debate on CNN. Trump drew roaring cheers from the sold-out crowd, most notably when he addressed illegal immigration issues and how undocumented immigrants affect the border state.
A call to end illegal immigration caused the audience to erupt in a “U-S-A!” chant. “We have to stop illegal immigration,” Trump said. “We have to do it.”
Trump told the crowd that before the speech, he was backstage with parents whose children have been killed by illegal immigrants. “I just saw some of the families who were decimated -- their sons, their daughters, killed by illegal immigrants and it’s a massive problem,” he said.
The real estate mogul pointed to the controversial barriers that divide Israeli territories when he brought up his plans to build a wall across the U.S.-Mexico border. “All you have to do is go to Israel and say, ‘How’s your wall working?’ ” he told the crowd.
Original story: Donald Trump was expected to make his way to Dallas Monday for an evening rally where he'll be greeted by a sold-out crowd of 20,000 people. Packed stadiums would not be news for the Republican front-runner but for the fact that the arena is wedged in the middle of North Texas' large Hispanic population -- a demographic Trump has struggled to win over after comments about Mexican immigrants being rapists and criminals.
Hispanic leaders say their presence at the event should not be misconstrued as support. Groups such as the League of United Latin American Citizens plan to take part in "Dump the Trump" protests outside of the American Airlines Center.
“There are 2 million Latinos in the North Texas area,” former LULAC President Hector Flores told Lone Star Politics on KXAS-TV. “He is now getting people excited about voting against something.”
That is not to say Texans have not jumped on the Trump bandwagon. An Aug. 20 poll showed Trump in the lead with 24 percent of Texas Republicans, according to the Houston Chronicle. He beats out U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in his own state. By comparison, Cruz has won 16 percent of Republicans support.
Thanks Mark, will be fun. https://t.co/hzlkPLebET
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 14, 2015
Trump has made illegal immigration a cornerstone of his campaign, particularly in states that border Mexico, such as Texas. He has repeatedly said he would build a wall to prevent Mexicans from traveling over the U.S.-Mexico border into the country. The real estate mogul last traveled to Texas in July to tour the border and talk to reporters about illegal immigration.
In recent weeks, other GOP presidential candidates such as Cruz and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker have also held campaign events in Texas.
Trump tweeted Sunday that the Dallas campaign event would be a "fantastic evening."
Wow, massive crowd at American Airlines Arena in Dallas tomorrow. Will be a fantastic evening!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 13, 2015
Watch the live stream video of Trump’s speech at the rally at 7 p.m. EDT here. A replay video will also be made available after the speech.